Simonds to stage February footy festival

Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons at the launch of Geelong's Festival of Football.

FOOTBALL, rugby, soccer – Simonds Stadium is set to host three football codes next month when Geelong hosts a new Festival of Football.

An AFL pre-season blockbuster between Geelong and Collingwood will be staged along with a crucial Asian Champions League qualifier for the A-League’s biggest club, the Melbourne Victory, as well as the Melbourne Rebels’ only Victorian pre-season game to kick off their 2014 Super Rugby campaign.

Premier Denis Napthine said the games were a great opportunity for sports fans in the greater Geelong region and would bring tens of thousands of people from Melbourne, the rest of Victoria and overseas to Geelong.

“These visitors to Geelong will bring massive economic benefits to Geelong businesses, particularly motels, hotels, restaurants, bars and others in the hospitality sector,” Dr Napthine said.

“With two international teams competing, New Zealand’s Wellington Hurricanes rugby union team and an as-yet-unknown Asian opponent for Melbourne Victory, we can also expect Geelong’s profile to be beamed into
millions of homes overseas.”

The games schedule is: 8 February, Super Rugby pre-season match Melbourne Rebels v Wellington  Hurricanes; 12 February, AFL NAB Challenge, Geelong v Collingwood; 15 February, AFC Champions League qualifier  Melbourne Victory v TBC; 19 February, AFL NAB Challenge Western Bulldogs v St Kilda.

“Simonds Stadium is certainly open for business,” Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons said.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty said staging the Festival of Football in Geelong was a great indication of the growing status of Simonds Stadium in Australia’s sporting scene.

“The staging of these blockbuster matches means that footy fans from not
only Geelong but across the Western Victoria have greater access to their
footy heroes, no matter what the football code,” he said.

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